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Winter garden in Minnesota

I set up a light garden with 2 4' 4tube fixtures last spring which did a very nice job starting my tomatoes and peppers and my sweet potatoes too. One is flouro and one set is LED. With the lights on a timer, managing this garden is actually quite easy and with the light down close to the plants this gets pretty close to full sunlight intensity.

This fall I decided to try to carry my sweet pototoes and tomatoes over as cuttings. The tomatoes failed, but the sweet potatoes went right to town. I just potted them up to 5" yesterday. The original 5 cuttings all took and I have taken three more from them. Curiously one of the roots had the swellings that look like the start of a sweet potato already. Those 8 got one of the four flats I have space for.

Other plants are a flat of onion seedlings that were supposed to bulb up for sets and never have; they just keep growing even with long days.

Also I have some Sonatini hippeastrums that fit under the lights and have been just plain fantastic. They started growing by the time their shipment arrived and have never stopped. Most of them are already past bloom and are putting out leaves and showing pups! Never even got close to Christmas.

Along with them are paper whites in bulb glasses. I root them in my cool kitchen and once the jar is close to full of those white roots, I move them up under the lights as close as their stretch allows. Most of them are doing real well. Not one of them is limited to a single shoot either, which I never expected. This year I am trying Galalee instead of Ziva which smells bad to some friends, and a couple of the very close tazetta relatives that smell much nicer but are more difficult. I think I will try to hold off on the Chinese Sacred Lilies a while and try to get them up for Chinese New Year.

So there is more to winter in Minnesota than cross country skiing and ice fishing.

I am thinking about a second 2x4 garden. If I go that route this time I will use all LED. Alternately I would like a lower light garden. I used to grow African violets and the 4x8 is way too much light for them. Every time I pass them for sale, I get the itch all over again.


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